BMW’s new M6 gets first GTLM, GTD podiums at Sebring

Photo courtesy of IMSA

It wasn’t a win, but it was still a very good day at the office Saturday for BMW – which secured the first podiums for its new M6 GTLM and M6 GT3 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans and GT Daytona classes.

A double runner-up finish saw the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM in second in GTLM with polesitter Bill Auberlen joined by Dirk Werner and Bruno Spengler.

Meanwhile the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 came up a hard-luck second in GTD, Jens Klingmann losing the lead late but still able to bring home a great result co-driving with Ashley Freiberg and Bret Curtis.

The No. 25 BMW incurred an early race penalty of stop-and-hold plus two minutes for work in a closed pit and exiting the pit lane with the red light on. A later over boost penalty was their second crushing blow, an in-race penalty.

They fought back but were unable to overtake the race-winning No. 4 Corvette C7.R.

“I believe the M6 GTLM was the car to beat today, but we didn’t help ourselves to the win,” Auberlen said. “We had two penalties early on, but fought our way back up to the lead. An over boost penalty near the end of the race required another drive through the pits and, ultimately, we fell short, but this should not be considered anything close to a disappointing day for us.”

The rebuilt No. 100 BMW finished sixth in GTLM with Lucas Luhr, John Edwards and Kuno Wittmer.

Both of Turner’s M6 GT3s had a shot in GTD thanks to a typically brilliant Will Turner/Don Salama strategy special to stay out and hope for a caution to extend fuel mileage. Once the final caution fell inside of 20 minutes, the podium chances were secured.

Alas, Klingmann lost out late to Alessandro Balzan’s No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 but still hung on for second – a needed bounce back for that car after a violation at Daytona dropped the No. 96 to 22nd and last in class for a driver exceeding the maximum drive time.

“It was really tough and we didn’t know what to expect, but we saw in practice and qualifying that we had a strong car for this weekend,” Klingmann said. “We have worked on getting there. The race was tough and it was difficult to keep the car on track when it was pouring down.

“I drove the last three hours and our big goal was to stay on the lead lap, which I achieved. Then it was just maximum attack. We are still missing a little, so I couldn’t defend P1 in the last ten minutes, but we are happy with P2. For the new car, if you can make it on this track I am really positive for the short races.”